Thursday, August 2, 2018

Op-Ed: Time Is Running Out For The Federal Land And Water Conservation Fund

By John Walliser, PA Environmental Council

If you care about public lands, outdoor recreation, community parks, protecting natural lands, clean water, and preserving heritage areas, you need to know about the importance of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
And, more importantly, you need to let your representatives in Congress know now that you want to see it reauthorized and fully funded.
Created by Congress in 1964, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was a bipartisan commitment to safeguard natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans.
To date LWCF has provided more than $309 million in funding support to Pennsylvania, from well-known places like the Flight 93 National Memorial and Appalachian Trail, to local projects like public park development and improvement in counties and municipalities across Pennsylvania.
In other words, its benefits are available to every resident of the Commonwealth.
LWCF is funded through annual royalties from offshore oil and gas development – not taxpayer dollars.
However, despite bipartisan support for LWCF, Congress has diverted much of this funding to other purposes almost every year.
Due To Expire In September
And now, unless it is reauthorized before the end of September 2018, the LWCF is set to expire altogether.
This isn’t just about protecting and improving Pennsylvania’s public spaces and unique resources; LWCF supports one of the largest economic drivers in the Commonwealth – recreation and tourism.
Research performed by the Outdoor Industry Association has found that public lands and recreational amenities contribute more than $29 billion in spending to Pennsylvania’s economy.
These resources generate $1.9 billion in tax revenue, support more than 250,000 direct jobs, and $8.6 billion in wages and salaries.
In the coming weeks, PEC will be highlighting – through our website and multimedia channels – projects and communities in Pennsylvania that the LWCF has supported, and which underscore the critical importance of ensuring that this funding is maintained for the benefit of generations to come.
But there’s no need to wait – you can identify and contact your Representative and Senator to let them know you support LWCF and want to see it both reauthorized and fully used for its intended purpose – to protect natural, cultural, and recreational opportunities in Pennsylvania.
John Walliser is Senior Vice President for Legal & Government Affairs with the PA Environmental Council.  He can be contacted by sending email to: or calling 412-481-9400.
For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Environmental Council website, visit the PEC Blog, follow PEC on Twitter or Like PEC on Facebook.  Visit PEC’s Audio Room for the latest podcasts.  Click Here to receive regular updates from PEC.
(Photo: Appalachian Trail in the Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania.)

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